Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Portraits of contemplative teaching: A third way
by Byrnes, Kathryn, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2009, 264; 3366661
Abstract (Summary)

Contemplative teaching is a third way of teaching. It extends beyond teaching as technique (hand) and teaching as reflection (head) to the inclusion of one's inner teacher or wisdom (heart). Technique emphasizes the how of teaching. Reflection interrogates the what and the why, while contemplation focuses on the who. Contemplative teaching originates from a teacher's core, from his or her compassion, integrity, and mindful awareness. Technical knowledge and skill and reflective understanding are utilized and embraced with a compassionate, integrated and mindful presence by a contemplative teacher.

This study examined the principles and practices of three teachers working in a K-2 contemplative elementary school through the method of portraiture. Portraiture served as an appropriate method to study contemplative teaching practices because of its emphasis on connection rather than separation, on seeing the universal through the particular, and on self-awareness and transformation of both participant and portraitist. Portraiture, like case study, attempts to detail an individual story with the underlying premise that "…as one moves closer to the unique characteristics of a person or place, one discovers the universal" (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffman-Davis, 1997, 14). The portraits presented detail descriptions and analyses of (a) the experiences influencing one's teaching presence, (b) the teacher's representation of his or her teaching, and (c) the classroom ethos exhibited by each contemplative educator.

A contemplative approach to education focuses on understanding humans' basic goodness, how to be of service in the world, the importance of being who you are and a focused attention in the present moment. The three portraits of contemplative teachers offer readers an opportunity to glimpse the transformative potential of contemplative teaching for educational communities. Contemplative education begins with the most intimate relationship possible, relationship with oneself. It is a journey that moves both outward into the world and inward into one's own mind, body and heart. It is a journey of knowledge and self-knowledge leading toward transformation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Borko, Hilda, Liston, Daniel
Commitee: Haynes, Deborah, Jurow, Susan, Whitcomb, Jennie
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Elementary education, Curriculum development, Education philosophy
Keywords: Contemplative education, Elementary education, Holistic education, Mindfulness, Spirituality, Spirituality and education
Publication Number: 3366661
ISBN: 978-1-109-28233-7
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